Coffee 101

Thank you for your donations to Gatlinburg Wildfire Relief!

In Blog, Coffee 101, Community, Meet Your Barista, Travel // on December 20th, 2016 // by // One comment



Thanks to the generosity of our customers and baristas, we were able to reach our match goal of $500 and raised over $1350 with the help of your donations! The money you helped us raise will go to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, which we chose for a number of reasons.

The Community Foundation has created the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville Emergency Response Fund that gives grants to victims and nonprofits who are providing on-the-ground immediate assistance AND long term services. The unfortunate reality of wildfires is that the effects are long lasting; people are displaced from their homes and some have to essentially start from scratch.  Being able to give the money as directly as possible to the residents and people affected was important.

You can find out more about The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s wildfire relief efforts and donate with them here:

One of our barista’s, John Mike, was moved to go volunteer to help distribute donated goods to those affected. You can read about his experience and look at his photos taken in the area in his blog post below:

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Get Lit Lou: Read Responsibly

In Blog, Coffee 101, Community, Events, Louisville, News // on December 5th, 2016 // by // No comment


Heine Brothers’ is proud to partner with the Louisville Free Public Library (along with our friends at Against The Grain and 502 Fit Pass) on Get Lit Lou (short for Get Literary Louisville), LFPL’s new winter reading program for adults, encouraging everyone to “read responsibly”. From December through February, participants who read any three books and attend three programs – either at the Library or at Get Lit Lou-specific programs at partner businesses – will earn a prize and be entered in to drawings for bigger prizes.

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Heine Brothers’ to host Coop Coffee AGM in Louisville this week!

In Blog, Coffee 101, Community, Fair Trade, Louisville // on September 16th, 2014 // by // No comment


Heine Brothers’ is proud to host the Cooperative Coffees Annual General Meeting here in Louisville this week! We have 50 people coming in to Louisville from all over the US and Canada to attend this meeting. There is a lot to get done – coffee cuppings, reviewing financials and board elections, discussing trips to origin, decision-making and next steps – but we’re going to make sure that they have a great time while in Louisville as well. Local businesses & events on the agenda are some of the best Louisville has to offer, including Garage Bar, the Muhammad Ali Center, Against The Grain, the Galt House, WFPK’s Waterfront Wednesday, the Green Building, Patrick O’shea’s, the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, ReSurfaced, and more.

In 1999, Heine Brothers’ Coffee became a founding member of Cooperative Coffees, Inc., a member-owned importer of fairly traded and organically grown green coffee, with six other micro-roasters in the United States and Canada. Today Cooperative Coffees, Inc. includes 24 specialty coffee roasters located across North America. Over the last decade, Co-op Coffees has imported millions of pounds of coffee – all directly from small scale farmer cooperatives.

Heine Brothers’ and Cooperative Coffees are committed to supporting and partnering with small-scale, Fair Trade coffee farmers and their exporting cooperatives. By importing directly from farmer partners, Cooperative Coffees seeks to foster a more equitable system of coffee trade that directly benefits these farmers, their families and their communities.

Besides roasters, we’re also happy to have two coffee producers in town for the meeting:

  • Antonio Ruiz of Maya Vinic in Chiapas, Mexico
  • Mario Lopez of Las Marias 93 in El Salvador

Check out some of the Coop Coffees roasters that we’ll have in town this week!

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Let’s take a moment to appreciate espresso.

In Blog, Coffee 101 // on May 21st, 2014 // by // 3 Comments

Espresso is concentrated coffee brewed by forcing hot water through a compressed “puck” of finely ground beans.  The espresso shot is creamy, smooth, and packed with flavor.  Any coffee can be brewed as espresso.  The possibilities for flavor experiences are as limitless as your stock pile of coffees and your imagination.


Heine Brothers’ puts our own twist on classic Italian espresso blends; smoky, chocolaty, and full-bodied, but with 100% specialty grade Organic & Fair Trade arabicas.  No robustas here.  Our goal is a blend of beans that yields a full-bodied, velvety shot that can be enjoyed in your favorite specialty drink, or all on its own.


Our standard blend incorporates a dark roasted Peru for its smoky, toasty quality, a medium roasted Bolivia for its sweetness and cocoa flavor, and a medium roasted Sumatra for body and peppery bite to keep it lively.  A shot pulled from this blend is smoky and semi-sweet, capped by a thick caramel colored crema.  The aftertaste is rich and warm, and will linger long after you’ve slurped the last drop from the bottom of your mug.



Blending and testing coffees for the Heine Brothers’ Espresso blend is always a fun, eye opening, heart racing, jitters inducing part of the job.  We love it.  And, we hope you love the fruits of our labor.


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Seed to Cup: Understanding Coffee – register now!

In Blog, Coffee 101, Louisville, News // on July 25th, 2013 // by // No comment

We have teamed with IdeaFestival University on a new event!

Seed to Cup: Understanding Coffee

Join IF University and Heine Brothers’ Coffee for a journey to coffee’s origin without leaving Louisville. This interactive class will begin with an overview of the coffee landscape and supply chain that is invisible to most coffee drinkers and enthusiasts. As part of this class, participants will join in a formal coffee cupping led by Heine Brothers’ Roast Master, Alec Risch.

What is the best tasting cup? How are beans blended to achieve a distinctive flavor?

After deliberating on the process of making coffee, class participants will engage in a series of cupping and roasting activities to produce an IdeaFestival Blend available at Heine Brothers’ Coffee retail locations throughout Louisville. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to create coffee worthy of the IdeaFestival label.

Facilitators: Mike Mays, Founder of Heine Brothers’ Coffee and founding Member of Cooperative Coffees, will share his stories of 19 years traveling to origin and how the coffee landscape has morphed to where it is today.

Alec Risch, Heine Brothers’ Roast-master, will lead the group in a cupping and coffee discussion to identify the properties most desirable in the IF Blend.

Important Note: Participants are asked to arrive at 9:15 a.m. Each participant will take home a 12.oz bag of coffee they cupped and roasted that day.

Click here to register!

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Green Coffee Price Increases

In Coffee 101 // on March 9th, 2011 // by // No comment

By now, everyone on the planet who grows, buys, roasts, or drinks coffee on a regular basis knows that prices for green coffee are going rapidly and steadily up. A lot of people will say the increasing prices are good because the market’s been on the rebound since the late ‘90’s, early 2000’s when a price bubble burst. Farmers were devastated when their crops were suddenly and drastically devalued. So, most of us know that we’re experiencing a “correction” in the market. The issue for the last year or so is that no one knows if we’re sitting on top of another bubble, or not.

According to the International Coffee Organization, an intergovernmental organization who meticulously collects and analyzes data on every aspect of the global coffee market, we’ve seen a nearly $.93/lb. increase in the composite price of green coffee between February ’10 and February ’11. That’s a 75% increase in one year. Luckily, Heine Brothers’ Coffee isn’t looking at increases quite that high. But, we are going to see a significant jump from 2010 prices.

The cost of green coffee, like the cost of any agricultural product, is an incredibly complicated thing to understand. It should be as easy as saying, “Supply and demand, duh.” Well, it ain’t. On the demand side… well that is kind of an easy one actually; people all over the world are demanding lots more coffee. It’s really the supply side that makes things so interesting.

Just like folks who grow corn and soy, coffee farmers are at the mercy of the weather. Torrential rains and mudslides that ravaged Central and South America in ’09, ‘10 obstructed production (as well as access to potable water and roads) in the affected growing countries, thereby causing a spike in prices. According to a blog post at Royal Coffee, unrelenting monsoons in Indonesia last fall have set production in that region back for 2011. Farmers know: It’s never ending.

Based on what I’ve gleaned from news stories and blog posts from other roasters, there are plenty of other (maybe surprising) factors in increasing prices. Development in the developing world, for instance, is putting a crunch on agriculture. Much like what happened in the US in the 20th century, urban sprawl is consuming agricultural lands, and younger generations are leaving farms to move to the city. Many people also cite dwindling coffee stocks in US warehouses. (Yes, the US has warehouses full of coffee, just like our strategic oil reserves*, only slightly more important.) Stocks in these warehouses were tapped in ’09 and ’10 due to the aforementioned supply crises, and haven’t been replenished. Even as production has begun to recover in the last year, producers are well aware of the record prices they could be getting. Because of this, some farmers are holding their stocks, betting that tomorrow’s price will be better than today’s.

Now that we’re aware of some of the factors in the pricing equation, the question for most of us is, “When will we hit the top?” Like I said earlier, the market has been climbing out of a deep hole for about 8 years or so. The problem is no one is sure how far it has to climb before reaching level ground. I’ve only come across one article suggesting we might be in the midst of another bubble. Most people, especially the folks at Coop Coffees who secure our contracts for us, think prices might come down a smidge, but long-term factors indicate we should all prepare to get comfortable with paying a little more for coffee well into the future.

Tune in next time when we discuss how high prices and volatility in the open market affects Heine Brothers’ Coffee/Cooperative Coffees green coffee contracts, green supply, and our long-term relationships with our growing partners. It involves coyotes and frank discussions with farmers about what they really need.

* Not purchased and maintained by the US gov’t. a la the oil reserves. At least, not that I know of.

Alec Risch is head roaster and warehouse manager for Heine Brothers’ Coffee.

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Health Benefits of Coffee?

In Coffee 101 // on November 8th, 2010 // by // 2 Comments

You don’t have to work in the coffee business to understand caffeine addiction. As a barista, though, I sometimes feel like a drug dealer in an apron. The smell alone lures even the non-coffee drinkers into my humble little shop, where they stand and just inhale while the addicts stream by, getting their daily fix of the fancy bean brew. I’m one of ‘em; I know. I wouldn’t be able to sling the tasty beverages so efficiently were I not sneaking sips from my own mug under the counter between transactions. But am I, and the other HBCAA’s (Heine Brothers’ Coffee Addicts Anonymous), potentially preventing diabetes, Parkinson’s disease or cancer? Could we even out-live the non-addicts?

An April 2010 CNN Health article notes that, according to the National Coffee Association, 54 percent of adults in the United States are habitual coffee drinkers and 146 billion cups are consumed in the U.S. each year. That’s 400 million cups of coffee per day. We’re more than just addicted — our bodies are dependent on it.

It’s difficult to examine exactly how coffee consumption affects our physical wellbeing, since we practice so many other various methods of keeping ourselves healthy (and I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have considered my coffee-drinking one of them). If you Google “coffee and cancer,” for example, you’re likely to find a lot of hazy results of imprecise surveys and studies that indicate, “well, it’s estimated that maybe, perhaps, in some small way, there was kind of a smaller number here, and these might be related, but maybe not, but further investigation is needed….” But the trend of the results seems to be leaning toward the positive — that yes, regular coffee drinking can lower the risk for certain types of cancer.

It’s a trend worth investigating, though, according to people like Dr. Joe A. Vinson, a University of Scranton chemistry professor, who study coffee extensively and are dedicated to finding more ways that coffee consumption can be beneficial to our health. He points out that coffee contains polyphenols and flavonoids, the same antioxidants found in tea, red wine, and chocolate, are found in coffee (decaf, too!). They help with brain function. And though people typically drink coffee for the caffeine boost, it’s where we get most of our antioxidants.

Coffee also contains potassium, magnesium and the compound trigonelline, which acts like the hormone estrogen. No, that doesn’t mean drinking coffee will make you feel like a woman. They’re still figuring out exactly what effects trigonelline has on our bodies, but they’ve determined that while it could be dangerous to women that have breast cancer, it could help prevent colon cancer. But again, this information is still brewing, so stay tuned.

Other studies have found that coffee may lower the risk for diabetes. One published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that coffee helps with insulin sensitivity and keeps blood sugar low — but the study was conducted on lab mice, so we don’t know exactly how that translates to humans. Another study from Archives of Internal Medicine, conducted in 2004, showed that the risk for type two diabetes was nearly 35 percent lower in people who drank four cups of coffee a day.

The possibility that coffee can help prevent Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s is also under investigation. The catch, however, is that based on the few studies conducted, it would take five cups per day to significantly lower the risk for Alzheimer’s, and about seven for Parkinson’s. So the rumors that coffee may protect people against these diseases aren’t completely false, but a lot more research needs to be done before that conclusion can be drawn.

This is all should be taken with a grain of Splenda. Coffee is not a healthy substitute by any means — don’t expect to go to the doctor and get a prescription for it. Keep eating your bananas and going to those contra dancing classes, and doing whatever else it is you do to stay fit, but maybe you can feel a little better about swinging by one of our shops (or makin’ some Folgers — whatever you’re into) for a daily pick-me-up. Apparently, “moderation” is 4-5 cups, so you’ve got plenty of room to perk up.

Scientific research and medical info aside, the experience of a coffee shop can sometimes work wonders on our mental and emotional health. It can be a quiet escape, a place to meet a friend, or a second home. Summed up nicely by Heine Brothers’ Director of Operations, Andrea Trimmer, “I feel that one of the big health benefits of coffee, especially obvious during this very rough time due to the economy, are the community gathering places that coffee shops provide. Rather than hiding out in their houses (if they still have them — not yet foreclosed on) scared to death, people can come to Heine Brothers (or other shops) to find others with the same concerns, and ready to talk. Lots of connections are made around coffee and tea.”


Jane Mattingly has been making amazing drinks with Heine Brothers’ since 2007, and can often be seen (or read) in your weekly LEO.


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